Clare Myers, Staff Writer
The controversy over creating designated “smoking zones” on campus continues as Student Government collects feedback from members of the University of Dallas community.
A campus-wide email was sent out less than two weeks ago notifying students of a survey online to gauge interest in and reactions to the idea. It asked a few simple questions including whether the respondent was a smoker and what his or her opinions were on the matter. According to Student Government president senior Renee Davis, several hundred responses have been tallied.
Freshman Joe Hanretty thought the questionnaire was a good way to judge student reactions.
“I think its fair to ask, especially new students,” he said, adding that the noticeably high number of smokers on campus was “something that makes UD stand out.”
Other students, such as sophomore Christian Gontarz, pointed out that the survey could be taken multiple times by the same person since as it was structured, it did not require any personal identification from the surveyed. At least one student did take it twice online.
There was another glitch in the survey. Some students took the survey both online and at the SG-on-the-Mall table on Friday.
Davis said Student Government will “keep this fact in mind when reviewing the results.” She stressed efforts to gather data from as many people as possible.
“Right now, the administration is speaking with all groups,” she said, explaining that in addition to the survey and the feedback collected from SG-on-the-Mall, President Keefe has consulted the Faculty Senate on the matter. After the survey information has been aggregated by the website through which the poll is conducted, she said, “SG will take the results and look at the distribution of responses to try to deduce how students feel about this initiative and what their suggestions are.” Student Government will use the results to draft a resolution recommending a response for the university.
She believes that the administration will make changes to the present policy to a certain extent. Curently, Irving city ordinances mandate that smokers stay 25 feet from buildings while smoking.
“The university will be moving towards something like smoking zones simply because the way the ordinance is now, if we were to enforce it, every [smoker] would have to [smoke] 25 feet not just from the entrance of the building but from every building,” she said.
Student reactions to the suggested change were mixed.
“It will ostracize smokers,” sophomore Jacob Fontenot said, adding that nonsmokers would be reluctant to go into smoking zones to hang out with friends.
Junior Jane Ziolkowski also expressed concern that the designation of space would pose a problem.
“Enforcing them would create more tension between smokers and nonsmokers,” she said.
Sophomore Kaitlin Meske believes the new rule would create a happy medium.
“Smoking zones are a norm as far as college campuses go,” she said. “They would be convenient for all concerned.”
The possibility of inclement weather is a cited as a reason to create the zones. Under the current ordinance, smokers would be forced to stand in the rain if they wanted to light up.
“We don’t want people to have to go out to the trees to smoke,” Davis said.